An Idea of Improvisation with
An Echolocation of Blackness
(after ashes)

A mythical village filled with echoes
of talking drums from Ibadan,
or the sweet potatoes that root
as some still dream of planting yams?
The musk of a hand carved mask,
or a funky lover feeling bituminous?
Could you spot it perhaps on the spectrum?
Do y’all hum or alhamdulillah?
O Lorde—do we decide to star it or tar it
as others have tried to find asphalt
in our absence of photons or perhaps
recite [carbon & oxygen & aluminum]
tho not as a ploy of blaxploitation
where most of the kinks got afro-picked out
and what was left only looked like a globe.
Or a melanite halo if some hot Mama needs
to braid or lay her baby hair for miles ahead
with [boron & lanthanum & carbon
& potassium & neon & sulfur & sulphur].
The elemental truth is—some may never know.
And yet, don’t we still whisper to cross it
as if fingers or streets or an ocean
—to seek a return to the orishas tho
I often think they overhear.
So what. Don’t stuff your fingers
in your ears or count the Pentecost.
Don’t ask if that grammar has a rosary
or recipe written in cornrows on her head.
Instead, address a question of the talking drum
—in what dream of eggshell shoes
could these midnight blues even indigo?

 

An Idea of Improvisation for Violin and Viola
(after Hilary Hahn)

Like if
one of our fingers
tries to cause a slide
or fall in pitch
to rise into a query
or they seek
to caress or pinch
a fret until certain sounds
begin to unpeel
from two citrus bodies
—say a blood or
navel orange
but not a sound
as in long passage
connecting two bodies
of water below
a duvet of darkness
or waves from
a beloved’s lips
in the leaps
of a ghazal
alongside the sea
of a secret which
—when you toss
your hair that way—
seems to flicker like
what in better light
some might call
abandon.

But perhaps,
perhaps, as if
somehow tonight
—as orange petals
warm the air
above a wick—
we sit close beside
a Trouble Clef
which even as
it knows it shouldn’t
begins to curl
into a silk scarf of sigh
—pianissimo as violets—
to perhaps warn
a bare stretch of arm
or thigh or neck
of what surely lies
beneath certain muscles
which may or may not
mimic a blood or
navel orange’s
quiet tremble—
as if only until dawn,
as if only until taken
or mistaken for
something which
—in flickering light—
could seem prone to rise or fall
like a lip of chrysanthemum
on a ridge of collarbone.